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Ex-ante evaluation of programming documents and strengthening evaluation capacity for EU funds post-accession

Conducted on behalf of: European Commission, Europe Aid Croatia

Commenced: January 2012

Project context

The Croatian path towards the EU membership started on the 21st of February 2003. Eventually, a year after receiving the status of “candidate country” from the European Council in June 2005, Croatia opened the first “chapter” of the accession negotiations which was provisionally closed on the same day at an accession conference. Since then, 29 more chapters were opened and provisionally closed, giving a total of 30 chapters provisionally closed to date. Negotiations on three more chapters are currently open. Croatia is therefore proceeding towards EU accession and is aligning its institutions with the accession’s objectives.

The last chapters were closely related to the “coordination of structural instruments”, which suggests that Croatian authorities have been completely committed to improvement in preparations for the implementation of Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund programmes, which will replace the EU’s previous support for Croatia via the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Reports indicate that there were some problems with implementation of the IPA funds, and so a smooth transition to the new Structural and Cohesion Funds will therefore require that the relevant authorities are equipped with the necessary expertise and know-how, in order to ensure that funds are managed and implemented effectively in Croatia.

Objectives of the project

The team will provide an ex-ante evaluation of Croatia’s National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF, an important document for managing EU funds and associated priorities) and five separate “operational programmes” (OPs, guidance documents for spending on a specific policy area). The team will also provide capacity-building training modules to improve evaluation across several ministries. All of which will ensure effective absorption and management of structural funds throughout Croatia’s path to EU accession.

Research team

Dr Simona Milo is Associate Director of the Social and Cohesion Policy Unit at LSE Enterprise.

Dr Antony Mousios is a public administration consultant with specific expertise in the field of programmes monitoring & evaluation (M&E). He is Director of the Public Sector Division at Eurotec S.A.

Mr Antonio Strazzullo is a public economics expert with experience in project cycle management within a logical framework approach, and in programming, evaluation and project assessment